The Gill Odd Fellows Home

Below is history of the Gill Home that I found in an 1899 Vermont Tribune. I found it in a special souvenir supplement to the Vermont Tribune newspaper.

I should explain about Mr. Gill being a dyer and what that means. In woolen mills of the old days, a prestigious position in a woolen mill was the man who dyed the wool to desired colors. This position required years of experience.

Gill Odd Fellows in Ludlow circa 1909. Photo provided by Ted Spaulding.

James S. Gill

  “James S. Gill was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, in 1828, the eldest of the six sons of Thomas and Elizabeth S. Gill; his father was a man of wealth, his business being that of a master dyer, but in consequence of the financial panic in 1837 he lost his property. In 1884 he removed his family to America and settled in Northampton, Mass. James learned the dyer’s trade, and at the age of 17 he took charge of the dye house at the Bottomly Mill, Leicester, Mass., and was engaged in other mills.

  “On account of his health he gave up his trade and engaged in the mercantile business in Leicester and Holliston, Mass., he carried at these places and was engaged in other enterprises till 1863, when he was again engaged as a dyer by C.L. Harding & Company who were then running the Burlington Woolen Mills at Winooski, Vt.

  “In 1868 he became a member of the firm of George W. Harding and Company, Ludlow, Vt., then operating the Ludlow Woolen Mills, and in 1878 he purchased the entire plant, and continued to run the business alone till Sept.1, 1885, when other parties became interested with him.

  “He has now retired from active business. In 1889 he built his beautiful summer residence in Ludlow. In 1894 he built the Gill Odd Fellows Home near his residence, which he deeded to the Fraternity in July 1895, a free gift. Mr. Gill has been a Mason nearly 45 years. He has always been a republican in politics. In 1849 he married Miss Rachel M. Wood. An adopted daughter, Florence Harding died in 1886, and in her memory Mr. Gill founded the Florence Memorial Library.”


James Gill. This photo appears in the 1899 Vermont Tribune souvenir supplement. Photo provided.

The Gill Odd Fellows Home

“Situated on a broad and elevated terrace near High Street, and overlooking a wonderful panorama of mountains and meadows, village, river and forest, is this commodious and elegant building. It is a lasting monument to the beneficence of its founder, and to the great fraternity to which it is devoted. It was originally built by Mr. James S. Gill for a summer hotel, but was deeded to the order, July 24, 1895….

  “….The dedication of the Gill Odd Fellows Home at Ludlow, May 20th, 1896, marked an era in history of the order in the state. About 3000 people were present at the exercises. The Home is a wooden structure three stories high with a frontage of 66 feet and a length of 96 feet.

  “The first floor is used for reception room, parlor, dining room and kitchen. On the second and third floors are twenty four rooms, twelve on each floor, many of them commanding fine views, and elegantly furnished by the various lodges of the state. The building is heated by steam and lighted by gas. It is a matter of congratulation that so few Odd Fellows need to avail themselves of the privileges of the Home, for at present there are less than half a dozen inmates.

  “As the order becomes older, its hospitality will be more fully enjoyed by members of the fraternity. The treasurer has in bank more than $2,000 which is proposed to be the nucleus of a beneficiary endowment fund.”

Ted Spaulding told me the building in the photo with this article was torn down in 1978. I knew Ted was active in the Odd Fellows so I asked him a few questions. Ted is the Odd Fellows Grand Lodge Secretary. Ted’s wife Noni is secretary of the Rebekah Assemblies. Both Ted and Noni have over 30 years in these fraternities.

Last week I wrote about the G.N. French Carriage Company. I mentioned the photo I used was taken in Bellows Falls but that I didn’t know the location. Several readers contacted me telling me the location was at the corner of Westminster and Barker Streets in Bellows Falls. Now we know where it was.

  This week’s old saying. “You can’t squeeze blood from a stone.”

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